By Aaron Lighter
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
As the Carolinas brace for Hurricane Florence, residents of the Baltimore area may be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
According to the National Hurricane Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Baltimore area is predicted to receive between 1 and 4 inches of rain between Thursday and Tuesday.
The center said Florence will reach Baltimore as a tropical depression around Monday night and Tuesday morning. Tropical depressions have sustained winds of less than 39 mph.
Florence is expected to travel up the western part of North Carolina, follow the Kentucky-Virginia border, and then travel over West Virginia.
“Baltimore will not directly be impacted, but there may be some indirect impacts from heavy rainfall,” said Howard Silverman, a senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
Baltimore County and Baltimore City are still considered to be at marginal risk for flash flooding, the center said.
Despite the changes in the predicted forecast, organizations are still treating Florence seriously.
Gov. Larry Hogan has kept Maryland in its state of emergency, which makes it easier to coordinate responses between state and local agencies if needed.
“A state of emergency is a good indicator that residents should remain alert and follow officials’ orders, news stations, and weather forecasts in order to be informed of the situation,” the executive director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Russell Strickland, said in a statement.
The American Red Cross is preparing widespread relief efforts across all states that are expected to be impacted by the hurricane.
The American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake Region said in a statement that it was “working with state and local officials to identify and prepare evacuation shelters” across the area.
The statement also said that the Red Cross was prepared to provide shelter for those who are displaced by the storm.
Similarly, Baltimore Gas and Electric will continue with current preparations for the storm.
“We have a robust storm response plan,” said BGE spokesperson Richard Yost. “We like to say that everyone here has his day job and his storm job. If we need to, we’ll put our storm hats on to make sure we can get help to our customers.”
Yost also said that BGE could potentially send help to the southern states that are hit harder, but he said the main focus still remains its local customers.
“Our first priority as always is our customers,” Yost said. “We’re also prepared to send some crews down south to help those that are in high impact areas. Likewise, we are prepared to get help from companies to the north if needed.”
Any power outages should be reported to BGE, either by phone, social media or through the company’s website.
“We prepare for these situations all year,” Yost said. “We do storm drills, we have well trained employees and have the proper resources needed to make repairs quickly. We are focused on maintaining safety for all of our customers and our employees.”
Many local agencies and departments are still remaining prepared should the storm change paths again.
The Maryland Emergency Management Agency took to social media to tell its followers that “flooding is still a concern and we need to remain prepared.”
The Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management in Baltimore City used social media to tell citizens to be prepared for power outages and have at least three days-worth of supplies in their homes.
As the storm pattern continues to be shifting, the Red Cross recommends that people check local news channels and websites every 30 minutes for updates on the storm. The organization also recommends that people have an emergency plan in place.
Those living in the Baltimore area can get updates from local stations or by visiting the National Hurricane Center’s website.
Watchdog Staff Writer Jacob Stolzenbach contributed to this report.